First impressions of studying at the Catholic University in Ružomberok within the EU Erasmus+ Program

During the second semester of the academic year 2023-2024, students of the Faculty of Foreign Philology Nika Kovalska (specialty 035 Philology) and Khrystyna Barchuk (specialty 014 Secondary Education (Language and Literature (English, German)) are studying at the Catholic University in Ružomberk (Republic of Slovakia) within the framework of the EU Erasmus+ Program in the direction of CA171: International Credit Mobility. They shared their first impressions of participating in Erasmus+:

“Upon arriving in Slovakia, the warmth and hospitality of the locals immediately strikes you, which challenges the typical narrative of a difficult experience abroad. It is quite easy to get lost in a foreign country, but the locals were always willing to offer us help, making it clear that we would never feel alone here. To bridge the cultural gap, we had previously learned a few phrases in Slovak, but many people here are fluent in spoken English. Their efforts to help us with our bags, show us the way and support us in every way were truly touching.

The process of settling into the dormitory was quite quick and hassle-free. We were provided with the necessary amenities and familiarized with the living conditions. Our room lived up to expectations: well-equipped furniture, comfortable and cozy space, conducive to both studying and relaxing.

Soon we got acquainted with the coordinator. Martin Pinkoš is still in constant contact with us and helps us in case of any problems. When dealing with organizational issues, we had some difficulties with opening a bank account, as the requirements of each bank differ significantly, and with obtaining a temporary residence permit due to changes in the rules for paperwork. However, the coordinator’s constant guidance was crucial in overcoming the challenges. It showed that we would not be left to face these obstacles alone.

Subsequently, during the Welcome Day, we got acquainted with the academic life of the university; we dived into the details of the university structure, the educational process and other various nuances that make the educational experience here unique. The day was not only informative, but also festive, as we received nice gifts, including a T-shirt with the university’s emblem and many useful things that symbolized our integration into the local student environment.

This event also contributed to the formation of our Erasmus+ community, emphasizing the benefits of participating in social events organized by the university to build connections with other international students. It was here that we met girls from different countries, including France, Italy, Georgia (Sakartvelo), Poland, and the Czech Republic. Our communication grew into a close friendship, full of daily meetings, interesting and informative discussions, joint activities and travels.

After the official part of the event, we were invited to lunch at a local restaurant famous for its traditional Slovak cuisine. Our exposure to Slovakia’s culture, food, and scenic beauty is designed to enrich our perception and inspire a deep admiration for its heritage.

The university itself has a spacious and aesthetically pleasing campus, well equipped to meet academic and extracurricular needs. There are areas for sports, reading, homework and leisure. Our first weeks were spent familiarizing ourselves with the educational system and choosing our subjects. Then the educational process began: diverse and interactive, with a strong emphasis on learning English through direct dialogue, the use of gaming technologies, etc. The teachers, who are proficient not only in English but also in the art of communication, offer their unique pedagogical approaches, ensuring that classes here are not only informative but also fun.

As soon as we joined the English for Journalists course, a group of journalism students warmly welcomed us by organizing a group excursion. Our trip to Oravske Hrad, a site full of historical narratives, allowed us to immerse ourselves in the rich fabric of the past. We brought back not only photographs, but also a deeper understanding of the cultural and historical context of the region. This event exemplifies the hospitable spirit of the local student community and demonstrates the potential for cultural exchange and the creation of meaningful, lasting memories.

In addition, our stay here was enriched by a trip to the mountainous regions, in particular the High Tatras. A spontaneous visit to the Tricklandia gallery was a pleasant surprise.  Recently, our travel itinerary went beyond Slovakia when we went on a 2-day architectural tour to Vienna, immersing ourselves in its rich historical and aesthetic flavor. Inspired by the experience, we are eager to delve deeper into our studies with a better understanding of cultural diversity and enthusiasm for discovery.

We express our sincere gratitude for the opportunity to be part of this exchange program and explore new academic landscapes. This unique experience not only expands our intellectual boundaries, but also serves as a source of inspiration, encouraging us to make a positive contribution to the development of both our country and the wider global community.”

Office for International Cooperation

First impressions of studying at the Catholic University in Ružomberok within the EU Erasmus+ Program